While Madame in Black gives you the creeps with its score and sound effects, the characters presented you are given so little on that it is hard to care if they die.
Disclaimer: I was given a link by Writer/ Director Jarno Lee Vinsencius to see this movie.
What began with a gruesome murder in 1633 evolves into a game by 1995. One in which we watch two children call out what is known as “Madame in Black.” Which, at the time, does nothing but maybe produce something of Alex’s (Demis Tzivis) imagination. Fast forward 22 years and they dare play this game again. However, now Alex and older sister Emma (Ida Gyllensten) have something to lose. First, their sense of safety, then potentially their sanity, but is the Madame In Black just a ghost or part of the characters’ collective imagination? You gotta watch to find out.
Most horror movies are consistently good at two things: The first being creating jump scares and the second being having rich scores. I’m talking about the kind which can travel from making your hair stand to remind you how creepy classical music can be. All of which sets a tone to put you both in a relaxed state as well as paranoid for you know it is a trick.
With Madame in Black, this is done throughout the whole movie with music which brings the quiet moments to life. Which helps you get into the head of the actors who are starting to get a sense of paranoia. Especially as they find Alex’s claims of perhaps seeing the Madame in Black perhaps not just his imagination.
One of the issues for a lot of horror movies, especially ones built around a killer who could lead a franchise, is that while the killer is presented as this interesting figure, the would-be victims are made to be disposable. Which is the main issue with “Madame in Black” for while Emma, Alex, and their spouses Sarah (Jennica Landén) and Harry (Kase Chlopecki) seem nice, why care about them dying?
Are you supposed to just because of your humanity? The idea that you shouldn’t want anyone killed violently? Well, to me, that isn’t enough. On top of that, it the Madame in Black isn’t like Jason, Freddy, Chucky, or the other icons in horror. If you don’t call her out, she probably won’t kill you. So to feel something for people who call out a tortured spirit? It is rather difficult. Especially when you only learn their name and who they are in a relationship with.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
When just speaking about the build up to when the Madame in Black appears, I have only positive things to say. The score drives the creepiness of the impending appearance of the Madame in Black and keeps you on edge. But, with us learning so little about the characters, it makes it so you don’t really for them. Especially since they aren’t innocent for they are the ones who called out this spirit.
Hence the mixed label for, in the realm of horror films, you can see potential here. For all that really needs to be done is give us characters who we actively don’t want to see die and maybe beef up the Madame in Black’s backstory. For while a paragraph explaining how she died and saying said story became a children’s game is fine, I think with just a little bit more done, there could be a new horror icon.